Did you know there are roughly 2.1 million people in the United States who are behind bars? It’s important to remember that for every incarcerated individual there are family members, significant others, and friends that worry about them.
Inmate visitation is a good way to see your loved ones and give them hope for the future. Sadly, the experience can often be quite stressful for new visitors.
That’s why we made this article. In it, we’ll walk you through visitation prep and tell you what you can expect. That way, you know exactly what you’re getting into. Let’s get started!
Locate the Inmate
The first thing you need to do is find the inmate. This is typically easy if you know where they are. But, it’s important to note that they made have changed facilities.
This could be to take advantage of better programs or just because of occupation limits on the prison facility. If you don’t know where the inmate is, or you think they move, use an inmate finder to locate them.
You can use Jail Exchange’s Inmate Search to go through any jail, prison, or detention center in America. Once you find the inmate, you can begin the approval process.
Most of the time, an inmate first needs to extend an application to the people they want to visit. When they first arrive at the facility, the inmate will be given an inmate visiting application.
The inmate completes their portion of the form. Then, they mail a copy to the people they want to visit. Who can visit an inmate? Here is a list of the people allowed:
- Immediate family (Parents, sibling, step-parents, foster parents, spouses, children)
- Relatives (Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws)
- Foreign officials
- Friends and associates (up to ten)
- Members of a religious group (like a priest)
- Members of a civic organization
- Parole advisors
Once the visitor receives their inmate visitation form in the mail, they fill out their portion. The visitor then sends the application for visitation back in the mail.
The prison will then run a background check on the visitor to make sure it’s safe for them to come. If approved, they'll get the inmate visiting schedule. If the person isn’t approved, then the inmate will be informed.
It’s up to them to tell the potential visitor.
Be Familiar With Different Types of Inmate Visitation
There are several different types of inmate visitations. The type of visitation you get can depend on the crime the inmate committed, and the COVID-19 procedures of the facility. The first type is video visitation for inmates.
This is similar to Skype or Facetime and can be done from the comfort of your own home. The next type is non-contact telephone visitation. This is when you can have a conversation through a glass partition with the inmate using telephones.
Finally, there are contact visits. This is the most common type of visitation. While physical contact is restricted at this type of visitation, you can visit and sit around a table with them.
The prison facility should inform you about what type of visitation you can expect.
When preparing for a prison visit you should think carefully about your outfit. That’s because there are certain things that you can’t wear when visiting.
If you do wear prohibited clothing, your visit will be canceled. The specific types of clothing you can’t wear varies from place to place. However, it typically includes things like:
- Provocative clothing
- Revealing clothing
- Hats, caps, and head coverings
- Sleeveless garments
- Clothing that looks a lot like inmate clothing (like military attire)
For a full list of clothing items, you’re not allowed to wear, make sure to check out this resource.
To gain access to the visitation, you will need a valid form of ID. This can be either a driver's license or a passport. If you don’t have either of these identifications, you will need a government issue ID badge.
Be Prepared for a Search
When you go for visitation you will be searched before entering the prison. Typically this includes walking through a metal detector and being pat-down. In addition, K9 teams could be present to sniff out drugs.
If they find any contraband, then you will be detained until the issue can be investigated further.
If they find enough evidence, you will be arrested. Remember you’re not allowed any electronics so leave all of these things at home.
Know About General Behavior During Visitation
Most of the time, when you see the inmate you’re allowed some brief physical contact. This includes things like handshakes, hugs, and kisses (as long as they’re in good taste).
However, staff can limit physical contact if they suspect contraband could be exchanged. Keep in mind that there will be many other people visiting around you.
Because of this, it’s important to keep your conversation quiet and respectful. If anyone starts yelling, the visit will quickly end. Inmate visits will typically last for fifteen to thirty minutes.
By law, you’re allowed to get at least four hours of visitation each month. However, in some special circumstances, the prison can supply more.
Need Information on an Inmate? Keep Exploring Jail Exchange
We hope this article helped you learn how to prepare for inmate visitation. At the end of the day, the most important piece of advice is to follow the rules. If you don’t, there’s a good chance your visitors will get canceled.
Or, worse, you could get yourself or the inmate into trouble. Here at Jail Exchange, we’re passionate about helping individuals find and connect with their incarcerated loved ones.
That’s why we include relevant information from over eight thousand different facilities. So, if you have any questions about a specific facility, make sure to contact us today.